I parked the Evo, and got it up onto jacks in early July 2015. I can tell you that its dumb to try to DIY, on your daily driver. This was the beginning of an 8 month long lesson, that it pays to have a second vehicle to drive while you modify your car. Owning a car that you want to race competitively without owning a true daily driver is totally stupid. For a few weeks, I hitched rides with coworkers, but that was getting old fast. Fortunately, my dad had an old 2500HD pickup sitting in his driveway and not being driven. I don't think that he realized I was going to have the truck for 8 months, when he agreed to let me use it. Adding insult to injury, I had to have all of the hard fuel lines in the truck replaced, after it started pouring diesel all over the parking lot at work a few weeks after I picked it up. Once that was done, the truck was dead reliable for the remainder of the time that I had it.
It wasn't until late August that I started to receive some orders of parts. Up first, were a set of Ohlins R&T coilovers set up by Chad at CBRD. Assembled with 10k spring rates all around, these were said to be a nice balance of track performance, and competent road manners that were going to be critical during the long legs of OLOA.
Something that wasn't discussed a whole lot ahead of time was the differences in weight between the stock struts, and the coilovers that were going to replace them. To get an idea, I put each on the scale. Each front was 9lbs less, and the rears lost 3.4lbs. This was a nice added benefit, to complement the additional capability of the new setup. Installation was dead simple, as you can imagine. There isn't exactly that many pieces to deal with.
In mid-September, I started receiving parts for the turbo kit. Unpacking everything, I got a really good look at what quality fabrication really looks like.
With the help of some friends, we started putting the car back together. It ended up taking a few weeks before everything major was back in place, and the car was ready to be taken to the shop for the requisite fuel upgrades in order to run E85.
Getting the fuel setup right, took way longer than I wanted. Luckily, this is why I got started early. It seems like nothing is easy when it comes to modifying a car. Worse, I needed it to work 100% of the time, without any failures. Even the slightest glitch would cost valuable time as we made our way through the week at OLOA. I had spent a lot of time talking with Corbin from Johnson Tuning. We'd decided that we really needed the flexibility of being able to run any blend of E85, without the extra hassle of trying to run the tank out. Because a true flex fuel option wasn't available at that time, we decided to go with multiple tunes on an Accessport. The result was an impressive amount of power out of the stock block. Notice the totally manageable amount of torque, critical for the longevity that we needed out of it. At this time, the fueling setup was really basic. Just a Walbro 450 in the fuel tank, with the return line drilled out (EvoXForums).
Comparing the performance to that of the stock turbo with full-bolt ons, you see a pretty substantial increase in WHP, as well as a much more flat torque curve at higher RPM. This was going to make for a car that was very easy to drive, especially for someone as relatively inexperienced as myself.
Now that things were finally back together, it was time to do some testing. There was an early November HPDE through AutoInterests at Mid-Ohio. I went to the fueling station, and got some E85. I hoped that this was going to be enough.
The first session of the day went just fine. The track was wet, because it had rained pretty hard the night before. Once things started to dry, I was finally able to get into boost, and shake things down. That was when things took a turn for the worse. Coming out of the keyhole at WOT, the car shuttered and made a backfire type sound from the intake. After this happened a couple of times, I knew that it was time to call it a day. Other than the performance issues when driving hard, the car functioned perfectly. Interestingly, this problem didn't show up while the car was on the dyno. After some lengthy discussion, we suspected that it was likely fuel cavitation causing extremely lean condition at full boost. Our explanation for why it didn't show up on the dyno was that the Walbro 450, being hardwired was pumping quite a lot of volume, and it was going to heat up the fuel inside the tank. The problem really really only became an issue when the fuel temps got into the 110-120F. With that information in mind, we went through and completely changed the fuel setup. The end result was effectively the entire catalog of parts that Radium Engineering offered for the Evo X, as well as a giant inline 6um fuel filter from Fuelab. The gem of the entire setup was the Radium surge tank. This was going to allow us to use the 450lph pump there, and put a much lower volume pump in the fuel tank. Keeping the fuel temps down, combined with the extra safety net afforded by the surge tank should prevent any problems from showing up down the road.
While all of this was going on, I was also busy trying to get my house ready to be put up for sale. Ashley and I had only been in the house for a year, but our circumstances had changed a bit. I had been offered a job with a new company, but it was going to require relocating to northern Michigan. That meant that it was all hands on deck to try to make things ready to go by the time we needed to be out of the house. I was starting my new job at the beginning of January. We were working late every night from the time that I had received the job offer, until the day that we had put the house up for sale. We put in every bit of effort that we could, to make the house as easy to sell as possible. The end result, the house was on the market for a total of 36 hours before we accepted a full-price offer. At the end of December, we packed our stuff, and moved to Michigan. In the next installment, I'll detail our final push before OLOA,. How a change in weather, resulted in a sudden change of plans, and a 36 hour road trip.